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Cymbalta Withdrawal & Detox

Cymbalta (duloxetine) is a prescription antidepressant medication in the SNRI (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) class. These medications are very effective in treating depression, anxiety, and pain. However, quitting suddenly will lead to Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms. Never stop taking your medication without talking to your doctor first.

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What Is Cymbalta Withdrawal & Why Does It Happen?

Cymbalta withdrawal involves symptoms that appear when you abruptly stop taking this medication. It’s a common issue. About 1% of people who quit duloxetine (the generic version of Cymbalta) had symptoms like headache, nausea, and dizziness when they quit.[1]

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SNRI medications like Cymbalta act on serotonin and norepinephrine receptors within the brain. Their action can decrease symptoms caused by major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and chronic pain.

People take Cymbalta once per day at doses between 30 mg and 120 mg.[1] In time, their brain cells become accustomed to the medication—known as dependence. Physical dependence is a normal and natural reaction to the constant presence of drugs and doesn’t mean the person is addicted. 

However, when you develop physical dependence, your brain cells will not function properly without Cymbalta. Suddenly stopping this medication will lead to Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms, also known as “antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.” Because of these distressing symptoms, you should talk to your doctor about gradually tapering off this medication, which can reduce the risk and severity of withdrawal.

Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms

If you’ve taken Cymbalta for long periods, your body believes it needs the drug. When you quit suddenly, withdrawal begins. 

Irritability, insomnia, anxiety, and nausea are all common in people who quit using Cymbalta abruptly. Some people develop even more serious duloxetine withdrawal signs and symptoms.

In severe cases, people who quit Cymbalta abruptly develop the following:[1]

  • Mental health issues: Depression, irritability, anxiety, confusion, and agitation are often associated with Cymbalta withdrawal. 
  • Unusual pain: Some people feel shocking pain in their fingers and toes. 
  • Energy changes: Some people feel lethargic and slow. Others feel extremely energetic and even manic. 
  • Seizures: Some people develop seizures during their withdrawal process, and those episodes can be life-threatening. 

Withdrawal symptom severity can vary based on how much of the drug you took, how long you were exposed to Cymbalta, and your overall health.

Common Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal Timeline

There is no boilerplate schedule for Cymbalta withdrawal as every person and every body is a little different. But this is a common duloxetine withdrawal timeline for people who quit the drug abruptly.[2]

Week 1 Flu-like symptoms (lethargy, headache, aching) accompanied by nausea develop. 
Week 2Symptoms continue and are accompanied by anxiety, irritability, and aggression.
Week 3Symptoms begin to fade.
Week 4Flu-like symptoms and pain are gone, but you may experience poor mental health for much longer.

Tapering Off Cymbalta

Never try to quit Cymbalta cold turkey. Always work with a medical team to develop a tapering schedule, and follow your team’s recommendations carefully.

Each person needs a different tapering schedule. A timeline that works for you could be wrong for someone else. Your doctor can help you craft an appropriate plan based on your unique needs, including your mental health symptoms and how high of a dose you were on.

A sample Cymbalta schedule may look like this:

Day 1You take less Cymbalta than you did previously.
Day 3You continue to taper and develop moderate issues, such as restlessness and insomnia.
Day 6Your taper continues, and your symptoms get slightly more severe. You may have gastrointestinal symptoms in addition to mental health challenges. 
Week 2You continue to taper, and you notice that your discomfort is fading.
Week 3You’re barely taking any Cymbalta, and you feel like yourself.  

Since withdrawal from Cymbalta can be so variable, it’s critical to work with a team that can support you, monitor progress, and offer help when needed. 

Tips for Tapering Off Cymbalta

It’s critical to care for yourself while quitting Cymbalta. Your discomfort will fade as your taper progresses. But self-care can keep you comfortable as your body adjusts. 

The following tips may help:

  • Gather support. Tell your family and friends you’re working with your doctor to quit Cymbalta. Ask for their help and patience as you adjust. 
  • Nourish your body. Stay hydrated. Fill your plate with healthy foods you enjoy. 
  • Redirect your attention. Read, garden, or do something you enjoy. Focusing on your symptoms can make you feel worse. 
  • Try mind/body approaches. Meditation and yoga can help you feel grounded and connected with your body. 
  • Use exercise. If you feel strong enough, try a workout. You’ll boost natural feel-good chemicals each time you move or stretch. 

Stay in touch with your doctor during the taper. If you’re still uncomfortable while following these detox tips, your doctor may need to offer more assistance. 

Cymbalta Detox & Professional Treatment

If you’re using Cymbalta as prescribed, you do not need a professional detox program—you just need to work with your doctor to wean off the medication. But if you abuse Cymbala, you may benefit from addiction treatment. 

While antidepressant abuse isn’t common, researchers say it’s possible. Some people take large doses of drugs like Cymbalta for their stimulant effects.[3] Someone like this may develop a Cymbala addiction and need detox services. 

In a detox program, teams can taper your dose properly and offer therapies for uncomfortable side effects. This is a safer way to get sober. And once the program is complete, you can enter rehab programs to preserve your newfound sobriety.

Your detox options include the following:

  • Hospitalization: If you’ve abused multiple substances or your seizure risk is high, a medical detox hospital-based program may be the right setting. You’ll get around-the-clock care. 
  • Inpatient care: In an inpatient detox program, you’ll work with counselors and therapists to taper. It’s an appropriate model for people who can’t get sober at home but who don’t have significant underlying health problems. 
  • Outpatient treatment: You work with a treatment team in a series of appointments, but you conduct an unsupervised taper at home. 

Detoxing safely is part of a treatment program, but it’s not the end of one. Once you’re sober, you still face all of the triggers and challenges that made you abuse Cymbalta in the first place. A treatment program can help.

In a structured addiction treatment program, treatment professionals can help you build up the skills to deal with old triggers in new ways. You’ll emerge with a toolkit you can use when you’re tempted to abuse Cymbalta. And you’ll understand what you must do to keep yourself healthy and sober. 

Talk to your doctor about addiction treatment, and enroll in a program that’s right for you. With the right support, you can build the foundation for a balanced life in recovery.

Cymbalta Withdrawal & Detox Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve compiled common questions about Cymbalta withdrawal and detox. 

How long does Cymbalta withdrawal last?

If you quit Cymbalta cold turkey, you could experience life-threatening symptoms for two weeks or longer. If you quit with a taper, your systems may be mild and last for several weeks.

How do I stop Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms?

Work with a doctor and develop a tapering schedule. You’ll reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms with this method.

Does Benadryl help with Cymbalta withdrawal?

Benadryl is a sedating antihistamine. Some people find the medication helps them to sleep. But if you’re using Cymbalta, even in a taper, don’t mix your medication with anything without asking your doctor first. Follow their instructions on how to proceed.

Can Wellbutrin help with Cymbalta withdrawal?

Wellbutrin is an antidepressant, like Cymbalta, but it’s in a different medication class. Never mix prescription medications like Wellbutrin with Cymbalta without asking your doctor first. Experts say you should stop SSRIs like Cymbalta before starting another antidepressant like Wellbutrin.[4]

Updated January 19, 2024
Resources
  1. Cymbalta prescribing information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published October 2010. Accessed July 8, 2023.
  2. Gabriel M, Sharma V. Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. CMAJ. 2017 May 29;189(21):E747. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.160991. PMID: 28554948; PMCID: PMC5449237.
  3. Evans EA, Sullivan MA. Abuse and misuse of antidepressants. Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2014 Aug 14;5:107-20. doi: 10.2147/SAR.S37917. PMID: 25187753; PMCID: PMC4140701.
  4. Appendix D: Switching antidepressants. BC Guidelines. Published 2013. Accessed July 8, 2023. BC Guidelines. Published 2013. Accessed July 8, 2023.
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